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Some Published Excerpts on Beta-Carotene and Other Vitamins


by Ted Kalli

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"[Beta]-Carotene, precursor of vitamin A, appears to protect against skin damage and dehydration caused by UV irradiation. Italian investigators used a topical cosmetic emulsion containing microencapsulated [Beta]-carotene.[1] In animals, they evaluated the products ability; to diminish peroxidation induced by UV irradiation. Then, in 30 women aged 30 to 45, they did a double-blind study of the product's effect on level of stratum corneum rehydration and its protective action against induced skin roughness (by negative replicas of skin areas). They found that, when incorporated in a suitable cosmetic emulsion, [Beta]-carotene prevented or reduced both peroxidation and skin roughness induced by UV. Moreover, it improved the level of hydration."[2]

"There has been no report of toxic symptoms resulting from excessive intake of carotene. Therefore [beta] carotene could be given to pregnant and lactating women to increase their body stores and the vitamin A content of milk since [beta] carotene is safer than retinyl palmitate and has no risk of teratogenicity."[2]

"Beta-carotene appears to be as effective as retinyl palmitate in treating vitamin A deficiency in children... Because is derived from fruits and vegetables, rather than from animal products as retinyl esters are, it may provide a cheaper source of treatment. "[3]

"Beta-carotene protects against photooxidative dermatitis in prophyric humans and mice by quenching of photoactivated species. Other actions of beta-carotene in vivo are explained on the basis of its ability to scavenge free radicals in vitro."[4]

"Tocopherols and tocotrienols (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as well as the carotenoids react with free radicals, notably peroxyl radicals, and with singlet molecular oxygen, this being the basis of their function as antioxidants."[5]

"The ability of beta-carotene to serve as precursor to retinoic acid was examined in vitro with cytosol prepared from rat tissue... Thus, beta-carotene metabolism may be an important source of retinoic acid in retinoid target tissues, particularly in species such as humans that are capable of accumulating high concentrations of tissue carotenoids. Retinal, considered an initial retinoid product of beta-carotene metabolism, was not detected as a product of beta-carotene metabolism in vitro. A ratio of retinol and retinoic acid different from that observed during beta-carotene metabolism in vitro was observed with incubations of retinal under identical conditions. These data indicated that beta-carotene metabolism is not merely a simple process of producing retinal and releasing it into solution to be metabolized independently."[6]

"Because the most potent of the carotenoids tested (i.e. beta carotene, alpha carotene, canthaxanthin) all have the potential for conversion to retinoids (though this has never been demonstrated in mammals for canthaxanthin), it is suggessted that these compounds have two components to their action; one related to their antioxidant properties, the other to their pro-vitamin A activities."[7]

Beta Carotene: "In the last few years increasing numbers of reports have suggested that the use of Beta Carotene may act to prevent the development of various malignancies. Beta Carotene and other similar compounds have differentiating properties that appear to affect cell growth and maturation. Beta Carotene is not toxic to the liver even in high doses in contrast to Vitamin A. Large doses of Beta Carotene will increase the body's demands for Vitamin E; therefore, those of you on 50,000 to 100,000 units of beta carotene per day will need to also increase your vitamin E to 1,000 to 2,000 units per day. The definitive role of beta carotene/vitamin E is yet to be understood, but there is sufficient reason to use beta carotene in a dose of 50,000 units per day. There is no need to supplement this with carrot juice or vitamin A. Beta carotene, like vitamin A and E is stored in the liver. Current clinical trials in prevention of cervix cancer and cancer of the lung and breast are using beta carotene. This may also be helpful in the prevention of colon cancer and melanoma."[8]

VITAMIN E: "Vitamin E is an important anti-oxidant. It acts as a free radical scavenger to prevent the byproducts of chemical-cell interaction to cause cell damage. Free radicals are likely responsible for all or most of the degenerative diseases e.g. arthritis, heart disease, cancer, senility etc. The absorption or scavenging of free radicals would protect our cells from this type of injury. Other free radical scavengers include zinc, vitamin C, and selenium. Studies have reported vitamin E to protect against some of the toxicities of ionizing radiation. Vitamin E may help to decrease the toxicity of certain chemotherapy drugs. Adriamycin is an important anti-cancer drug with potential major toxicity to the heart. The use of 1000 to 2,000 units of vitamin E per day may help to decrease this toxicity. Vitamin E may decrease some of the harmful effects of solar radiation on the skin. As cited above it works well in conjunction with beta carotene. Vitamin E appears to have stabilizing effect on the vascular system and is useful in decreasing menopausal and premenstrual symptoms. It is useful in decreasing leg cramps occurring especially at night. Vitamin E can be used in lotions or creams to protect the skin or to treat for burns. It is also helpful to treat burns secondary to radiation therapy. I have also used it with good results in patients with dermatitis resulting from poor blood circulation i.e. stasis dermatitis. It is commonly prescribed for topical use in pregnant women to prevent stretch marks on the abdomen. More recently it has been used to prevent or treat mucositis resulting from chemotherapy. I advise patients to bite into a 1000 unit capsule and swish the vitamin E around the mouth and over the mucous membranes lining the cheeks. This is done three to four times a day. You can also use liquid vitamin E to do this."[8]


1. Internat Soc Cos Chem, Barcelona (Sept 1988)

2. Vitamins and the skin. (vitamins in cosmetics), Idson, Bernard, Cosmetics and Toiletries, Dec 1993 v108 n12 p79(11)

3. A randomised controlled trial to test equivalence between retinyl palmitate and beta-carotene for vitamin A deficiency. Carlier C; Coste J; Etchepare M; Periquet B; Amedee-Manesme O. BMJ Oct 30, 1993 v307 n6912 p1106(5)

4. Protection by beta-carotene and related compounds against oxygen-mediated cytotoxicity and gentoxicity: implications for carcinogenesis and anticarcinogenesis. Rosseau EJ; Davidson AJ; Dunn B. Bioenergetics Research Laboratory, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.

5. Antioxidant functions of vitamins. vitamin E and C, beta-carotene, and other carotnoids. Sies H; Stahl W; Sundquist AR. Ann NY Acad Sci 669: 7-20(1992)

6. Biogenesis of retinoic acid from beta-carotene. Differences between the metabolism of beta-carotene and retinal. Napoli JL; Race KR. J Biol Chem 263: 17372-7(1988)

7. Diverse carotenoids protect against chemically induced neoplastic transformation. Bertram JS; Pung A; Churley M; Kappock TJ 4d; Wilkens, LR; Cooney RV. Carcinogenesis 12: 671-8 (1991)




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